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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

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Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

In a second attempt to translate the Torah into Greek (after an unsuccessful attempt 61 years earlier), the ruling Greek-Egyptian emperor Ptolemy gathered 72 Torah sages, had them sequestered in 72 separate rooms, and ordered them to each produce a translation. On the 8th of Tevet of the year 3515 from creation (246 BCE) they produced 72 corresponding translations, including identical changes in 13 places (where they each felt that a literal translation would constitute a corruption of the Torah's true meaning). This Greek rendition became known as the Septuagint, "of the seventy" (though later versions that carry this name are not believed to be true to the originals). Greek became a significant second language among Jews as a result of this translation. During Talmudic times, Tevet 8 was observed by some as a fast day, expressing the fear of the detrimental effect of the translation.

Links: The Day Before; Translating Truth; more on translation

Daily Thought

Our world today is built upon the foundations of two similar cultures: the Jewish and the Greek. Both treasured the world of ideas.

Yet, to this day, they represent two worldviews, still locked in battle.

To this day, we struggle: Does human dignity mean that our minds are the measure of all things?

Or does it mean to be in the divine image, inextricably bound up with the Infinite that lies beyond the mind?

The Greeks reached the pinnacle of intellect at their time. Their ideal was a world built upon the human mind.

But the Jewish people had experienced a deeper reality, indescribable and inexplicable. They understood that a world built on human reason alone could not stand.

The Greek conquerors rose, fell and vanished. The Jewish people still stand strong.

And so, we light candles on Chanukah. Not light to see by. Not light for any use at all. Pure light.

Light that is forever.